Legal Business Blogs

Financials 2016/17: Expansive Burges Salmon cites Brexit impact as revenue and PEP growth halted

UK firm Burges Salmon’s profitability fell 8% in the year to 30 April for the first time in six years, which the firm attributed to the negative impact of Brexit on its business in a challenging year.

This year, the Bristol-headquartered firm’s revenue stayed at £87m, slightly down from last year’s £87.4m.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) also dropped to £435,000 from last year’s £525,000.

Managing partner Peter Morris told Legal Business that the drop in profitability came as the firm ‘didn’t have the revenue growth we had planned for’. This was due to the fact ‘we experienced a lower level of work in the first half of the year, probably Brexit-related.’

‘Our work levels then returned to grow across all practice areas, peaking in the fourth quarter’, Morris said.

In contrast, revenue and profits both increased by 8% and 9% respectively in 2015/16, and at the time the firm had grown 32% consistently since 2011.

The firm, which counts 434 lawyers and 88 partners across its two offices located in Bristol and London, announced a new strategy at the start of the financial year, narrowing its sector expertise onto seven areas: transport, infrastructure, private wealth, real estate, energy, financial services and the public sector.

Morris described the strategy as successful: ‘It helped us address clients’ needs in a more focused way. A good example is probably the infrastructure area, which is very topical at the moment.’

The firm said it was focused on the medium to long-term outlook, resulting in three internal promotions to the partnership and two lateral hires.

During the year, Burges was appointed to tier one of the government’s £400m Crown Commercial Service General Legal Services panel.

Burges also acted for John Lewis Partnership, on whose panel the firm sits since 2015.The firm also worked for a number of governments and public bodies, including the Cayman Islands and the British ministry of defence, along with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and HSBC. Other clients were Premier Asset Management, Virgin Active, BEIS, M&S and Ascent.

Employment partner Chris Seaton step in as new senior partner on 1 May succeeding corporate partner Alan Barr after six years. Morris said the new senior partner, who joined the firm in 1991 and was part of its partnership committee since 2011 will bring forward the firm’s new strategy.